HYDERABAD: The Telangana High Court on Tuesday found fault with the state government for not providing assistance to farmers whose crops were damaged following incessant rains in September and October 2020, under the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) and the National Disaster Relief Fund, though it had substantial funds to provide relief.
A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice Tadakamalla Vinod Kumar observed that it was not proper for the state government to contend that no assistance was released to it by the Union of India for providing relief to farmers, and hence the argument could not be accepted.
“Substantial amounts were available with the state government under the SDRF to provide relief to farmers who suffered crop losses caused by heavy rains in September and October, 2020. Such funds included sums made available by the Union of India amounting to Rs 977 crore on April 1, 2020, itself, and Rs 449 crore was released to the state government under the SDRF during 2020-21 (Central share), with Rs 149.67 crore being the state’s share. The amount was credited into the account of the state government during 2020-21. So, it cannot blame the Union of India for not providing funds to it for the said purpose,” the bench remarked.
"Moreover, till May 21, 2021, Telangana state did not even disclose the details of expenditure to the accountant general, and for what purpose the money available with the state government under the SDRF was utilised by it is thus not known," the High Court observed. However, it did not involve deeper into this aspect of the issue, as it is the duty of the accountant general.
Apart from that, the court also criticised the state government for its failure to inform the farmers in the state about the Prime Minister’s Fasal Bima Yojana. “It is the duty of the state government to inform farmers through its extension facilities about it so that they may choose to avail insurance individually,” the bench said.
The bench pointed out failures of state government in providing relief, while pronouncing the judgement in a PIL, complaining about not extending compensation in the form of agricultural input subsidy to all affected farmers in the state, whose crops were damaged in 2020.
The court directed the government to take immediate steps for payment of compensation and ex-gratia to all those farmers who suffered severe losses during September and October, 2020 floods within three months and extend it in the form of agricultural input subsidy under the NDRF/SDRF, as per the National Disaster Management Act, 2005, to all farmers including tenant farmers across the state.
Further, the division bench also directed the government to initiate immediate steps for providing additional relief to small and marginal farmers by extending the crop insurance scheme for the year 2020-21 within four months....